When I first moved to Cape Girardeau my freshman year of college, I found the size of Cape a little daunting.
That might sound a little strange, as Cape Girardeau isn’t exactly what springs to mind when one closes their eyes and tries to picture a big city. But according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Cape Girardeau has just short of 40,000 citizens, making it four times bigger than my hometown of Troy, Illinois. I’ve also heard the city has 100,000 people in town daily for work, school, shopping or healthcare.
I remember feeling so small the first time I watched an endless stream of cars bustle down Kingshighway. Likewise, the first time I tried to navigate through the web of restaurants and stores off William Street, I felt like I was being swallowed up in a concrete maze. Still, I was determined to acquaint myself with my surroundings. After the first week of classes ended, I decided to spend my first Saturday taking a leisurely stroll through downtown.
It was like someone threw a switch and teleported me back home.
I wasn’t sure how, but I remember what I was seeing and feeling when it happened. Corner grocery stores, barbershops, restaurants, antique stores, pubs, and boutiques stretched all the way down Broadway until concrete and sky met on the horizon. People trickled in and out of each building; others rested on the benches or gathered beneath the planted trees. Nobody was in a hurry. I could feel that sense of community—that small-town warmth I was so accustomed to—return to me with every step I took and every storefront window I passed.
The day I’ve described took place more than three years ago. I’m now on my final stretch of my college career; I’ve grown quite a bit and learned a lot. However, I still haven’t explored all that the city has to offer, and I consider that to be one of my bigger failures. I’ve since made it my personal mission to see as much as I can while I’m still a student. That’s where this blog comes in: behind each brick-and-mortar business downtown, there’s a man or woman who poured their blood and sweat into it. I’m here to tell their stories.
For the next several weeks I’ll be spotlighting a local business owner or manager whose determination and creativity has left its mark on our community. And I’m happy to do it because the first place that made me feel at home wasn’t my Church, or my fraternity, or even my university—it was the city itself.
My name is Seth Watkins, and this is the Brick-and-Mortar Bulletin.
Disclaimer: This blog post and other Brick-and-Mortar Bulletins on this blog are not an advertisements, nor are they an expression of favoritism on the City of Cape Girardeau’s behalf. The purpose of this blog is to spotlight our local business owners/managers and thank them for providing the innovation that shapes the identity of the city and allows our community to thrive.
Seth Watkins is from Troy, Illinois and attends Southeast Missouri State University. He majors in public relations and minors in writing. Although his dream job would be drumming in a rock band, Seth hopes to build a career for himself in either the corporate or healthcare sector of PR. To learn more about him, visit his LinkedIn profile here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sethwatkinspr/.